Tag Archives: needle and thread thursday

Classic Meets Modern–April

Double Z is the block Erin gave us for the Classic Meets Modern Block of the Month. It took a while to adapt it.  I could shift the halves for an asymmetrical look, but though that has been my favorite modern feature, it isn’t the only one, and I was ready for a change.

My first thought was to make the triangles irregular. (I refuse to use the word “womky.”) But as you can see from the instructions, this pattern needs the tips to meet to get the Z effect.  I considered making the 16 half-square-triangles and looking at them to see if it just might work, and if not using them elsewhere.

Meanwhile, a new idea was forming–this one had two sources. I was reading Vintage Quilt Revival Yes, they have a quilt made on this pattern, but I needed my own modification. I was intrigued by their “Dancing Squares” quilt and discussion where the modernization is to add negative space by alternating blocks made traditionally with blocks following the same pattern but substituting background color for pattern in a couple strategic places. As I was looking at the block, pondering what would be an effective place to substitute background for print, I remembered another BOM, the Vice Versa BOM. I had been intrigued as people posted their pairs of blocks with color reversals.

[ETA link to a sample of one of those blog entries ]

So my negative space became the figure as I eliminated print in one of the “Zs” and made the background from a second print, the second print reflecting Erin’s two-print sample. My block does not follow either idea exactly, but you can see how it is related to both. I really enjoy tracing an idea backwards to its source(s) when possible.

First try at Double Z block

For the second try, I experimented with using only two fabrics.

Second try

I haven’t decided which I like better or if one is more modern than the other.

You will find the book, Vintage Quilt Revival: 22 Modern Designs From Classic Blocks interesting if you like patterns, if you want to see samples of modernization(and ponder a set of features), and if you want a small taste of quilt history.

Not only am I linking with Classic Meets Modern, but also since it isn’t midnight yet, with Needle and Thread Thursday–button in the sidebar.


ETA: So long as I keep up with BOMs, I’ll have at least one NewFO to share at the end of the month. I am not making the BOMs as parts of a sampler–each is the beginning of a quilt. Not the usual approach, but it works for me.



Filed under books, quilting

Bridge Lines Completed

1/12/16 Reviving this post for Val’s Quilting Archives (button in sidebar)

Lines instead of shapes was the March lesson. (Previous posts here and here) And after getting this one assembled, I can definitely see the construction value of shapes and the design value of lines.

Finished piece

The construction was a royal pain. There is a world of difference between slash-and-insert for improv and for a predetermined design.  I laid out the pieces, marked placement with pins, and carefully analyzed the design for order of slashing and sewing.  I didn’t quite use templates. I put pins along the edge of the piece to be inserted then used ruler and rotary cutter to cut 1/4 inch inside the line. I thought that would maintain the proportions and line ups. No.  Soon the pins marking various pieces’ placements became more and more approximate and the edge more and more raggedy. What started as 21 x 25 to allow leeway toward a goal of 18 x 24 ended up 17 x 22. (What math am I missing to explain this loss? It doesn’t seem like it should have happened.)

Next the quilting. I had planned to do only stitch in the ditch so used a batting that allowed for unquilted spaces up to 12 inches. But as I was stitching I got the idea of ghost ladders in the bigger spaces.  (I wonder if the idea was inspired by having browsed Leah Day’s filler designs and practicing “Josh’s Ladders” on a fire truck block? Or if it came from looking at the ladders and empty spaces. I’ll never know because I can’t go back and not know the Josh’s Ladders filler.  I wonder too if this in-process shift from plain to ladders is what people mean when they say “The quilt told me what it wanted.”)

I had a couple doubts about the quilting: should I add one more ladder in the upper left corner? Should I change the quilting in the white area? However, I got my comments from Elizabeth who approved the quilting as is. I am not one for ripping out quilting needlessly, so I’l be glad to take her word on it. She also approved the limited palette for such a complex design. I wish I could say that was exactly why I used it. 🙂

Linking up with Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday. Go visit!

4/13/14 Linking with  the monthly Sew Solid Sunday–button in the sidebar


Filed under design, quilting

Block Play

I got the block lotto winnings out. It has been a long time, but I think I won them two months in a row. They didn’t immediately fall into clear groupings, so I put them away to mix with older stragglers later. Well, it is much later. It’s that out-of-sight-out-of-mind thing again.

What prompted this flurry of activity was reading about the Soy Amado project at Little Island Quilting. The idea of quilting 12.5 inch blocks appealed to me for practice with various Free Motion Quilting designs. I knew there would be some orphans after I’d made combinations from the lotto blocks, and thought they would be good candidates. So to find out which blocks were orphans, I had to see which blocks I could combine.

So far I have these four grouped together. One needs two more blocks, all need about 3-inch borders. I considered putting the hearts on point, but rather like them with the other five that have similar colors. I think the hearts look okay on their sides.

I can sew another day, but I know I’ll be more likely to sew now that they are grouped.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday and Needle and Thread Thursday (links in the sidebar).


Filed under quilting

Improvi Robin Comes Home

I have recently made the fifth addition to the last circulating quilt in my improvi robin group.

improvi robin as received

As received–44 inches wide

I had one idea involving white rick-rack that I “knew” I had.  Couldn’t find it anywhere, so on to plan B.  Oh I could have gone shopping, but it was the weekend of heavy ice and snow, and Portland doesn’t do well with heavy snow. I don’t do well with heavy ice. (Once the piece was in the mail, I did find the rick rack, of course.)

I knew I wanted to make an addition that extended the bottom zig zag, but not duplicate it exactly. It was 6 inches wide, so I went for 5 inches. Also a friend suggested adding  black gingham cupcakes. I didn’t have black gingham, but did have the race-car-flag checked fabric.

my addition

As ready to send home

And what little slide block did those checks end up by?  Cars from about the 50s.

I pondered what color “cherry” to put on top since red wouldn’t show up, then went the way of the four corner cupcakes that had none.  That way the big cupcake in the center remains the star.

The tan fabric to the lower left has the word cupcake and the saying of the woman to the right is “When I learned to sew I forgot how to cook.”

A round robin changes its character so much as it moves through various hands. One notices a need for light or dark, for this color or that, and adds it. The next sees the balance tip one way and adds something to rebalance the piece, and so it goes. I always think of a saying I once heard: walking is a series of unbalanced steps. In this case the one before me saw the need for red and big and plain.  I saw the tipping toward red and brought back the black and white. I kept the feature, large, in my upper border. Echo some, change some.

I was waiting to post this till mine returned.  This is what I sent out:

My starter block

As sent into the world

My robin mates went for a Wizard of Oz theme.

Returned blockI love the gray gold and green to the right–that says thunderstorm to me, suggests the source of the rainbow, and fits the emerging theme. And all those lovely bright triangles look so much brighter in contrast. I should find some bicycle print to add to it. It is the width of a child’s quilt–just needs some more length.

Into the “someday” pile it goes. Linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday and I Quilt Thursday: buttons in the sidebar.


Filed under design, quilting

Another Prehistoric Set of Yellow and Purple Lotto Blocks

One down., two to go from this two-year old collection (link here).  Maybe I should assemble all three tops before they get buried again.

Whether I make this one 45 x 45 or 40 x 60, it needs additions. While pondering whether to add blocks, borders, or sashings, I remembered an orphan block, Dresden Lady, and wondered if I could make them play together.

blocks with Dresden LadyWhat would you do to relate them? Or would you keep them in separate projects?


Filed under design, quilting

Lines and Circles

January's project

January’s project, 9 x 14

First I read Elizabeth Barton’s Inspired to Design, which led me to follow her blog. And her blog announced a year-long, online Master Class on art quilt design. The time was right: I needed to add doing and receiving commentary to reading about design.

January’s project focused on value but started with a photograph. I started with this photograph of the land boat in the Lan Su Chinese Garden.

Land boat

See the heron?

The quilt viewer does not need to know that the quilt started with this photo; therefore the quilt is not named “Land Boat” but “Lines and Circles” (unless I think of something more creative–any suggestions?). Meanwhile, readers interested in process might want to know. We sketched major value blocks and drew shapes, then abandoned the photo and adjusted values and shapes into a design we could quilt. We could be representative or not.

Between cropping the photo, adjusting the slant, and moving the pomegranates, I thought I had gotten free of the photo. But when Elizabeth suggested bright colors, I realized I was stuck in the browns and greens of the photograph–my only planned color change had been to brighten the pomegranates to a more burnt orange than the brown of the photo.

I began to think differently and after considering a couple bright combinations, decided on primary colors–red, blue and yellow. It was a challenge to work with various values of yellow and red; blue came easily. I made the background and quilted it, and then I added the circles. That consruction allowed me to fix a problem Elizabeth noted in my submitted final. Three of the circles ended up in a horizontal line. By making two into pairs, one addition up and one down, I hope I’ve fixed that a little. I can still see the straight row, but it no longer glares.

Elizabeth’s most recent blog entry  on color and value was a fitting conclusion to the January segment of the workshop. I am eager to hear what our starter will be for February.

You can see another from the Masterclass at Off the Wall Friday plus peek at other art quilts. Then there is NewFO to browse and more buttons to the right.


Filed under design, quilting

Two Guilds = Two Challenges

Challenges come in various shapes and sizes.  Some start with fabric combinations. One such is the Modern Quilt Guild’s Riley Blake challenge; it starts with six fat quarters of Riley Blake Basics.

Six Riley Blake fat quartersMy first thought was that the fabrics needed space between them (though I’ve since seen some great examples where they were used adjacently). My second thought was that the aqua chevron pieces needed to be large to showcase the print (though I’ve seen some cut small that look great). The rules are pretty open: add any solid; add any Riley Blake print; may omit any of the six fabrics; object must be quilted.

I decided on an  infant-size quilt (for the baby with modern taste) and got out the graph paper. I started with a large square for the aqua and added squares around it. Might be the first time I’ve liked a first draft of a design–oh I did enlarge the aqua square to make the other measurements come out better. I finished the top at a recent guild retreat.

RB quilt topI had cut the pieces at home before the retreat, so sewing it went fairly quickly; I was finished in a couple of hours. Now to think on quilting options.

It went together so quickly that I feared running out of projects at the 3-day retreat. So that night instead of counting sheep, I planned a pair of pillows with the left over fabric.

RB pillow topsI have been playing with slash-and-insert lately, and this fabric seemed fitting for such a project. Interestingly, these pillows took as long to assemble as the above quilt top. Even though it has happened before, I remain amazed at how much time improv takes. It takes longer than the more regular squares and rectangles that I can chain piece. Every slash is a new design decision. Every slash is as much a possibility of ruining what is there as enhancing it. I came very close to abandoning the two pillow idea and making just one because I liked the top at that point. But I went ahead with my plan and don’t dislike the pair. Also incubating quilting ideas.

Then there are challenges where chance makes some decisions. Such a challenge was offered by my other guild.  We drew a number which became a page number. We closed our eyes and drew a magazine (not a quilting magazine) from a big pile. The challenge is to use our page (the number drawn) as inspiration for a quilt: colors, designs, or words.  My magazine was a journal for horse breeders and racers. I have until spring, and the quilt is small.  I will have an idea by then.

ETA link to Sunday Stash.


Filed under design, quilting

It’s Improvi-Robin Time

I received a starter with one addition:

improvi robin received

as received

The start was the star and the surrounding diamonds and print to make it square. Addition one was ambitious: four points and the row of diamonds.

It sat on my “design sofa” for a couple weeks while I thought of what the quilt wanted that I felt like making. I briefly considered making more points. But I don’t like to paper piece. Just in case someone else might want to, I left that side alone. Remember our minimum requirement is to add to one side. I was leaning in the minimum direction.

When I work on a round robin I try to unify.  If a color in the original has been ignored, I try to use it.  If the addition has started something, I try to follow. Sometimes what is needed is change or contrast. I try to leave something new for the next addition to pick up on. I don’t always manage to do all three. Sometimes the piece isn’t ready for all three.

At first I thought to make my background lavender and aqua, picking up on the hint of change from black and white. But the bottom half of the diamond background to the left kept saying, “Pink” to me.  So in the background I followed the lead of the first addition by using all three. I pondered adding a new shape, but decided on less change. I’d keep diamonds, but make them larger. At first I thought of purple and deeper aqua diamonds. Then I decided I’d keep two colors in the diamonds like the starter, but make them horizontal. And instead of purple, which was well represented, return to some brights in the starter star.

So I did this:

my addition to the robin

as sent

If I were to do it over, I’d do three diamonds so that the size leap was not so big. I often don’t see the size right in my head when I am designing. So I laid it out after I’d cut the pieces, but for some reason, the size didn’t flash caution lights.

Once these robins leave my hands, I don’t have  photos of the follow up additions. There is a FlickR group where some of us are posting and a Threadbias group where I am in the group sometimes named Robin Hood and sometimes Group 2. In both places, I think you can view without joining, but not comment or post photos. (Let me know if I am wrong on that.)


Filed under design, quilting

A Different Sort of Round Robin

I have probably mentioned that I really enjoy Round Robins. Till now, I’ve participated in traditional ones where one starts with a center block, usually 12 x 12, and sends matching fabric along with it, and members each add a border. Sometimes the size of border is stated; sometimes more directions, like a border using triangles; an applique border.

This one is an “improvi robin.”  The only rule is No Whining.  The starter has no predetermined size.  The additions can be most anything, minimum, add something to one side.

So here is the starter I sent out.

improvi robin start block

10 x 12

It will be about 5 months till I get it back with four additions. We do post photos on Threadbias in the Improvi Robin group, but that gives only a hint. I am eager to see it in real life. It seemed appropriate to do an unconventional block for such an unconventional project (though conventional was okay too).

This is the starter I received:

improvi robin start 2

14x 13

Another unconventional block–even the flying geese are irregular. And the words on the medium fabric are, “Blah, blah, blah.” Plan A was to put something on the top for the triangles to be pointing to, but it seemed too close.  One challenge of knowing there are borders to follow is to not do something appropriate for ending too soon. So I moved to Plan B.

improvi robin 2-2


You can see I used some of the Blah-blah fabric.  We had the choice of sending along fabric or not and of using it or not. I do like the continuity of seeing at least a small bit used throughout.

I have received a starter plus one addition, but I’ll wait to show it till I can also show what I added.


Filed under quilting

Doll Quilt Progress and Improv Fabric Thoughts

Earlier in the week I started on doll quilts (here), and pondered colors for sashing and borders.  The decision became easy when I looked at the amount of each color that I had since I didn’t want to run to the store. Some of each.

One-heart block doll quilt

14 x 16

The 8 1/2 inch square block got aqua borders and a little lace.  About the time I was thinking the Victorian look deserved lace, I spotted some lace waiting to be put away.  Lace, zippers, ribbing–I have no logical place for such things that I rarely use but don’t want to throw away. Luckily the lace had not yet reached the “out of sight out of mind” corners.

four-heart-block top

16 x 16

The four heart blocks became this top. Instead of sashing, I framed them. Framing is a useful solution when each block is a variant of 6 1/2 x 6 1/2. My blocks are precise only when I am sewing for a group project and they have to match with others’ blocks.  It would have been nice to surround each heart block with lace, but serendipity goes only so far.  This was the best use for what I had found.

Just for fun, I estimated how much improv fabric I had made. In addition to the two quilt tops, I have three 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 pieces to make into variable star doll quilt tops–these will be for the regular guild project; I’ve decided two are enough for the ballet project. The total comes to about 1/3 yard–and not all the scraps have been used yet.

One of my friends says, “If you paid $9.99 for your fabric, you also paid $9.99 for your scraps.”  After spending my sewing time for one day stitching the small pieces together, I wondered if it were worth it after all.  If I were the time=money type, I’d have to say, No.  But I’m not. I enjoyed the process, and I like the effect.

It’s WIP Wednesday and I have a WIP; how rare is that! And a day later, Needle and Thread Thursday. Check out others’ projects–see links to the side.

ETA link to October’s NewFO.  The ballet quilts are finished, alas no photos. Now I am working on more doll and bear quilts for another guild project. (Nov 2).


Filed under quilting